Managing the expansion of E-LIS
Imma Subirats Coll
Government of Catalonia - Spain
Last modified: October 26, 2005
E-LIS is divided into three sections: administrative, editorial and technical. A discussion list for each section provides the basis for action. The administrative section deals with strategic issues including the future direction of the initiative, its policies and their impact on the user community, and its connection with other scientific communities. The editorial section is devoted to metadata quality and guidelines. The technical section concentrates on the software - its implementation, enhancement, development, added-value functionality, and its operation within the OAI framework. These sections provide the over-arching structure within which the methods and procedures followed by E-LIS staff are established, maintained and developed.
The core of the organisational model is the administrative section which also has responsibility for determining the international and future vision of the archive, keeping in mind an understanding of national and international needs. In some countries, librarians want to create national archives for LIS instead of inserting papers into an established international archive, such as E-LIS. This is understandable because there are many technical difficulties associated with the use of different languages, alphabets, and non-alphabetic languages and with the consequent problems of input, output and the sorting of data and author names. E-LIS co-operates with each country individually to decide the best solution to the technical and non-technical barriers so that international visibility can be promoted whilst national interests are served. One idea, currently being debated, is to create a service provider with a harvester to gather national metadata from the national LIS archives and which could be part of the RCLIS infrastructure.
All work performed by the editorial section is developed by the editorial staff from discussion on a mailing list. Topics include metadata issues, guidelines for cataloguing, promotion of E-LIS and OA in general, and questions which arise from international co-operation. The principal editorial aim is to reflect the best practices of librarianship in each country by inviting the top scholars in the discipline to contribute to E-LIS. Therefore, the choice of editor for a particular country is crucial as they must be thoroughly conversant with the debates and personalities involved in the LIS disciplines in their country and they must also have the dynamism to promote E-LIS and the commitment, talent and patience for organising people, events and documents. Again, it must be stressed that this activity is currently done on an entirely voluntary basis, but it is evident that it has been of immense benefit to the LIS discipline as a whole. International co-operation can facilitate debate on current issues on many levels and provides the editors, on a personal level, with new professional experiences and expertise.
The entirely voluntary character of E-LIS must again be stressed, as it gives a particular connotation to this support system which facilitates co-operation, promotes consensus, forms of expression and the identities of OAI group members, and nurtures relationships between different actors and countries in this wide, international community. E-LIS is confident of its progressive and comprehensive nature in technical matters and content, and particularly in the internationality of its vision and philosophy, and in its attempt to enhance and improve professionalism within the discipline. However, it is not lacking challenges, particularly concerning its budget and the resources needed for a more incisive performance, and as grants and other sources of funding are elusive, the success of E-LIS is largely based on the voluntary efforts of its members.